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Growing the Profile of Platonic Studies in Olympiodorus' Alexandria

Growing the Profile of Platonic Studies in Olympiodorus' Alexandria



When Olympiodorus wrote his Commentary on Plato’s Gorgias the place of Platonic Studies at Alexandria must have been rather insecure. Ammonius Hermeiou, to whom he looked as his teacher, failed to leave us any work that professed to teach Plato rather than Aristotle. Certainly he had an interest in Plato, but for some reason this was never reflected in extant writings or indirect reports. His immediate successor seems to have been the mathematician Eutochius, and Olympiodorus gives the impression of rebuilding Platonism from almost nothing. Extant work suggests a lively interest in Socrates in particular, a figure comparatively easily marketed to a Christian community, and able to be studied through some of the most appealing of Plato’s dialogues. Later Platonic commentaries suggest the growth of resources for Platonic studies, with more reference to the Athenian school, and a growing worry about the strength of the school’s Aristotelian foundations. The occasional hint of Socratic aporia and a complex approach to Plato seem to have enabled Olympiodorus to become one of the most respected teachers ever in the complex Alexandrian community.



Harold Tarrant: Professor Emeritus at the University of Newcastle. He studied at Cambridge and Durham Universities, but spent major portions of his career at the University of Sydney and the University of Newcastle Australia, where he is Professor Emeritus. He has authored or edited, often with others, several books related to Platonism in Antiquity, including a monograph on the Alcibiades II, which is currently in proof with Parmenides Press. Since 2012, he has retired to live near Cambridge, UK.



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